New Netflix Original ‘Wine Country’ sees the hilarious Amy Poehler take on her feature length directorial debut. The film follows six friends who take a trip to Napa Valley for one of the groups 50th birthday celebrations. From a screenplay by Saturday Night Live writers Emily Spivey & Liz Cackowski the film’s cast includes comedy favourites Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler herself, amongst a whole host of other talent too.
Spivey & Cackowski’s screenplay is excellent at immersing audiences in their characters’ experiences. As you watch the film you really feel like you’re taking this trip too, a glass of wine to enjoy simultaneously won’t go a miss either! Poehler’s itinerary obsessed Abby is a relatable yet infuriating force for driving the narrative forward as she keeps her friends constantly moving onto the next planned activity. Whilst the pace of the weekend for the characters is maybe too fast, the pace that the film has is just right. ‘Wine Country’ perfectly balances the comedy and drama present in a seemingly effortless fashion. This maybe comes with the exception of the film’s opening as before the first really effective comedy sequence hits the verdict on whether the tone of ‘Wine Country’ would work is still unclear. Thankfully after this balance does becomes clear audiences can be reassured that this is going to be a comedy worth their time.
Like the fine wines the characters are drinking this comedy does feel more mature than a lot of other mainstream offerings from the genre. This is a film with an older target audience than maybe a lot of these actresses’ previous work. The humour present feels so unbelievably natural, in such a refreshing way. There’s nothing forced about the comedic writing here, often it’s so apparent to see a film setting up gags but here they just flow as they would on a trip like this with a close group of friends. There’s a constant level of comedy throughout the film with regular peaks of hilarity. When the humour does take a back seat it makes way for the drama that the film has to offer, this never detracts from the film but gives the story and characters as a whole much more weight, hence the more mature feeling the film holds. Despite this the writers aren’t afraid to include more silly, slapstick style humour as well, always reigning things in just before going too far but ensuring that ‘Wine Country’ is still super fun. Unsurprisingly the cast are excellent at delivering this comedy and the drama too with the whole ensemble exhibiting such a believable and watchable chemistry.
‘Wine Country’ is an assured debut from Poehler proving a lot stronger than many of the comedies she herself has been directed in over the years. The likeable cast excel in delivering the clever comedy provided whilst the screenwriters expertly balance this with the accompanying drama, overcoming a cinematic challenge that many struggle to achieve. So with Netflix finally sharing this original from their cinematic cellar pop the cork of your favourite tipple, bring the gang together and get drunk on the quality comedy and compelling drama ‘Wine Country’ has by the glassful!
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
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